Over the past couple of years I’ve worked with colleagues to help extend research in online reading comprehension to include other elements of literacy that I think are missing from the model. Through various initiatives we’ve developed elements of online collaborative inquiry, and online content construction to help expand the work students are involved in as they use online information sources to research and develop media skills.
What does it mean to create/construct online content?
Online reading comprehension (ORC) has elements of “communication” identified as the last of the five skills students need. In order to fill the void I would see concerning the creativity, composition, and design skills students need…we have been developing online content construction (OCC). OCC was first identified in my dissertation and the proposal for this work. I first had the idea years ago while working on an annotated bibliography under the guidance of Rick Beach to try and consolidate the great work in visual, digital, and multimodal content construction…while making it easy & flexible enough for teachers to make this work happen in their classrooms.
I currently have a piece further developing this theory coming out in the CT Reading Association Journal…
and have to write a chapter about it soon. The chapter is out…and available here. You can also review the chapter embedded below.
How is communication in ORC different from creation, or even construction in OCC?
The ideas and concepts in all of this work does overlap sometimes…and students and teachers should feel empowered to move in, out, and between all of the concepts. Working online is a fluid experience which calls for flexible learners.
I would view communication in the traditional understanding of ORC to include basic elements of communication as taught in our high schools and universities. During the ORC process students learn during an inquiry process and then send this message out to others using a text or tool of their choosing.
In terms of the creation vs. construction debate, most of the thinking up to this point has been on creation of online content. The origin of OCC was originally structured around the idea of content creation as defined by Sonia Livingstone in her theoretical definition of media literacy (2004). She identified that in order to “identify, in textual terms, how the Internet mediates the representation of knowledge, the framing of entertainment, and the conduct of communication”, our understanding of construction and creation needs to be broad enough to allow for change in the future. I believe that viewing the work as construction and more expansive that just creation allows for this eventuality.
How is online creation different than online construction?
In thinking about this question, I may be splitting hairs, but I believe that the word choice involved in identifying construction as opposed to creation is also of the utmost importance. Creation can be viewed simply as the act of producing, or causing to exist. Construction is the building or assembling of an infrastructure. Construction is equal parts inspiration and perspiration. Construction calls on creativity as well as persistence, flexibility, and revision. Construction asks our students and teachers to focus on the power and patience employed during work process…and not just the final resultant work product.
Construction also brings in the role of groups of learners in the process of learning and as a result includes elements of social and cognitive constructivism. Learners are encouraged to be creative as they build and revise content. They should look to see if it meets their needs and how representative it is to other elements of online information. But, most importantly, they are to use the expertise of other students and the teacher in the classroom. I would also suggest including elements of abstracted replay, or viewing the work of experts as they revise and edit their own work process and product.
It may be a small designation to make, but I see a great deal of difference between the act of creation, and the sustained, informed, evaluative elements embedded in construction.